Elderly Singaporean jailed for fatal knife attack on flatmate over cup rinsing
72-year-old’s deteriorating relationship with his flatmate of four years came to a head in a heated argument
By Alfred Chua
A squabble over the rinsing of a cup between two elderly flatmates in Singapore took a fatal turn, which left one dead and landed the other a four-year jail term.
72-year-old Tan Kim Hock admitted to one count of culpable homicide, and was sentenced to four years’ jail by the High Court over a 2016 “revenge attack” on his flatmate.
The court heard that Fan Fook Heng, who was 62 at the time of the incident, and Tan were living together in a one-room rental flat since 2012.
The relationship between the flatmates deteriorated over time, and it came to a head on the night of June 27, 2016.
The court heard that Fan, who was resting on his mattress in the living room, was perturbed by the sound of Tan washing his cup at the kitchen sink.
He confronted his flatmate, grabbed the cup and slammed it down on the sink in anger.
Tan ignored Fan and continued washing the cup before Fan punched him on the left side of the face, causing him to bleed from the lip.
“Tan was angry with Fan’s nonchalance even though he had injured (Tan), and caused him to bleed,” Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Jason Nim said in court.
“He decided to teach Fan a lesson by making him bleed as well so that he would not hurt him in future.”
Taking a kitchen knife, which has a 17cm-long blade, Tan lunged at Fan and “thrust, cut and stabbed” him repeatedly.
Tan only stoped the attack after Fan collapsed to the ground. Tan then went out to seek help from a neighbour, before calling for the police, and turning himself in.
Fan was rushed to the hospital, where he arrived with no heartbeat. An emergency operation was conducted, but he later succumbed to his injuries and died at around 3am on June 29, 2016.
An autopsy report showed that Fan died from loss from blood from his multiple wounds.
Among his injuries were a 6cm-long cut wound on his scalp, wounds on his shoulders and arms, as well as various bruises across his body.
Asking the court to impose a jail sentence of at least four-and-a-half-years, prosecutors pointed out the brutality of the revenge attack.
“Although the deceased may have been the initial aggressor, the retaliation was entirely disproportionate,” they said.
“While Tan was reasonably entitled to respond to Fan’s initial assault on him, this in no way excuses his subsequent violent over-reaction calculated to exact revenge,” added the prosecution.
Justice Chan Seng Onn, in delivering the sentence, noted the “significant degree” of provocation in this case.
Tan’s sentence will be backdated to June 29, 2016, when he was first remanded. For culpable homicide not amounting to murder, he could have been jailed up to 10 years, and/or fined. No caning was imposed as he is above 50.